Skip to the content

What venues can do to prevent a curtain call on culture 

Culture encompasses the ideas, customs and behaviours of a society that we express through art and socialisation. But without the space to express ourselves, is it curtains for culture?  

A sector hard-hit by the pandemic, business owners and employees in creative and cultural careers are anxiously waiting for the very final stages of the government’s roadmap to reopening this year, and the Secretary of State for Culture has acknowledged that “not everyone is going to survive” despite the government’s £257 million Culture Recovery Fund. 

For those who do survive the wait, what will the effort to ‘Revive Live’ look like, and will crowds return with caution or enthusiasm? 


Impact on the industry 

Lockdowns, social distancing measures and hygiene concerns have provided hurdle after hurdle for performers, venues and fans alike over the last yearApproximately 70% of employees in the sector were furloughed last year, secondly only to the Accommodation and Food sector who saw 77% of employees furloughed in 2020. Industry revenue saw a steep decline as well, making the prospect of economic recovery even more challenging 

Unable to draw in crowds to venues, galleries, museums and bars as art would normally do, the creative and cultural sector saw a great shift to the digital realm with a focus on live streams and virtual concerts, video content creation and social media engagement as a means of staying connected with cultural enthusiasts, fans and communities.  


What can grassroots businesses do differently 

Lockdown is practically the antithesis of everything that culture stands for, buthe sector must be industrious and look for new ways to prepare for and tackle this challengeGrassroots venues and their associated artists can use this time to rethink the way they do business, to reskill in areas that complement their artistic and business goals and use their creative minds to revolutionise the industry so that culture return more accessible and profitable during the pandemic recovery. 

Here are 5 key areas you can focus on to help get your business prepared for reopening: 


Re-evaluate venue space 

Conduct a risk assessment and action plan to manage any hazards  

Rethink crowd management like staggered entry times, seating arrangements and service of food and beverage 

Ensure hygiene stations and hand-washing facilities are widely accessible 


Take stock of your revenue streams 

Chase your royalties 

Explore crowd fundraising  

Formulate strategic endorsements and partnerships 


Invest in Digital 

Engage with your social media community 

Work on continued live streaming and virtual concerts 

Explore the world of VR to bring performers and fans closer 


Work on employee skills set 

Assess team skills gaps 

Invest time into digital and technical skills 

Train your team to manage COVID-related risks and hazards 


Make the most of grants, incentives and initiatives designed to help  

Explore fully funded Level 3 certificates for adults 

Receive up to £1000 for taking on a trainee 

Receive up to £4000 for taking on an apprentice (from April) 

Register to order free rapid lateral flow COVID tests for employees 

Make use of the government Kickstart Scheme 


Culture will never disappear but the way we work within the cultural sector is changing. 

Whatever the community’s response is to venues reopening, is it the sector’s responsibility to acknowledge and act on the need for change. There is support available from the government, from your local authority and from us at Skills for Growth – SME Support, so if you’re ready to start doing #BusinessAbnormal, call our team on 0161 237 4444 or register your details here to receive a call-back from one of our friendly Skills Coaches.  

As ever, the show must go on. 


Further resources 

Performing arts - Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance - GOV.UK ( 

Guidance on Reopening ( 

Check if your nightclub, dance hall or adult entertainment business is eligible for a coronavirus grant due to national restrictions - GOV.UK ( 


The Growth Company is an award-winning, not-for-profit social enterprise with a mission to enable growth, create jobs and improve lives. We provide individuals and businesses with a wide range of services that improve employment, skills, investment and enterprise for the benefit of all, and have been working in the Greater Manchester city region for more than 30 years. 

This project receives funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.  

The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme.  

Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit 

About the author

Skills for Growth - SME Support

Skills for Growth - SME Support

Skills for Growth - SME Support is a fully funded, tailored service to help upskills your employees and improve business productivity. We're here to help you grow your business through re-shaping, developing your talent and enhancing your team's performance.